Enlightened Conflict

disturbing cartoon and words

April 6th, 2010

(warning: the cartoon used in this post is offensive on a number of levels).

Beware. This post is an out and out unequivocal rant.

Every once in a while someone does something using freedom of speech that disturbs me (I have another post suggesting that freedom of speech doesn’t absolve you of freedom to be stupid … it is a privilege not to be abused).

Ok. I just saw something that disturbed me. A cartoon depicts Barack Obama as a rapist and the Statue of Liberty as his victim. While I find the cartoon itself offensive I find the thought (or thoughts) behind it probably even more disturbing … and offensive.obama rape statue

Look. I understand the rape metaphor is not new.

Conservatives routinely accuse progressives of “raping” America

Rape is used to describe a dislike with a political process or specific actions , i.e., healthcare is being “rammed down our throats.”

We’re being told to “bend over and take it.” (and more like those)

But Darleen over at her blog ‘Protein Wisdom’ takes it to a new level in a cartoon that has Obama raping the Statue of Liberty.

Apparently others were as disturbed as I and told her so. In response to some of her detractors for developing the cartoon she says:

Heck, I want to shake them up. This is supposed to be a post-racial era? Then deal with the fact that the President of the United States is the head of a gang that just raped our American principles.

This is so wrong on so many levels I find it difficult to know where to start. But here goes:

  1. Rape is rape. It is not healthcare or anything political. It is not a metaphor. It is real. It is ugly. It is personal. Using it as a metaphor is disgusting, offensive and disturbing.
  2. The cartoon is a reflection of a level of hate that while this cartoon takes to an unacceptable level is indicative of a significant tone among a growing (ok. maybe not growing in size but maybe something else) vocal ultra conservative club.
  3. This is “shock communications” at its absolute worst.

Too often nowadays it seems too many people, of all beliefs, refer to the raping of America to show their indignation of what they believe (or perceive) is happening. I assume they believe the metaphor will make a bigger impact.

Well. In the marketing business we would call it cheap sensationalism.

And in the marketing world only hacks stoop to that level. If I can take a step back and think clearly on this … I would suggest effective communications is all about “breaking through the clutter in a meaningful way.” And ‘meaningful’ translates into balance. Intrusive but not at the expense of the message. This crosses that line.

Bottom line.

I am offended when rape is used in this way. Maybe I am too close to this issue but diminishing the personalness of rape by using it as a metaphor is … well … it pisses me off. And I am sure that is not the most eloquent nor smartest reason for anyone to agree with me but number one above all it is personal to me. And I would assume it is very personal to a lot of women.

So. Bottom line. It pisses me off.

And it should more people. And that includes the ultra conservatives <or anyone for that matter> abusing (and diminishing) the physical act by using it as a metaphor. If someone wants to be treated fairly or if they wanted to be considered as a credible voice to listen to … they should think long and hard about what they are doing and saying.

The causal use of rape as a metaphor trivializes it. And I find it offensive. And I find it an appalling lack of understanding just to attempt to make a point (not just in this cartoon but with the overall issue of using that word).

I also find it disturbing that there is a level of antagonism towards the president that lies well beyond the boundaries of what one would consider reasonable political debate or an emotional disagreement on a specific decision.

Look. He has had to have a Secret Service long before any other presidential candidate. He has received more threats than any other president elect. Since he’s taken office the threats of violence have continued. For the president himself there have been calls for his assassination. Something has gone completely out of whack here.

Lastly. There is a sub current of racism in the cartoon which I find troubling. And it is a troubling undercurrent within the tone of many published point of views with a black president at the helm of US leadership. I cannot exactly put my finger on it. But. I am not black nor a minority (unless you want to count old white guys as a minority). My minority friends would probably be better able than I to figure that thought out.

I am sure the United States media has been hesitant to step up and take this cartoon on because by doing so maybe it could be construed as giving it legitimacy (I found reference to this cartoon in a British paper – the Guardian). But. Someone should step up and recognize the wrongness of it, the message and all the other levels of wrongness associated with it.

But that is just my opinion.

Enlightened Conflict